Likelihood of wrist fractures varies by age, season, presence of osteoporosis

Individuals who suffer a wrist fracture may have a higher risk of being diagnosed with osteoporosis, and recent research has suggested that the risk of such an injury may hinge on a person's age and the time of the year.

A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International found that elderly women are more likely than their younger counterparts to experience a distal fracture of the wrist, and that this type of broken bone tends to occur more frequently during the winter.

Finnish researchers from the Oulu University Hospital's Division of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery came to this conclusion after searching through the medical records of thousands of individuals who had visited the institution for broken bones.

Out of a population of more than 112,000 residents in and around Oulu, 285 individuals were admitted to the hospital with distal fractures.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that this type of injury - in which a bone in the forearm called the radius breaks close to where it meets the wrist - is quite common among people with osteoporosis or progressive bone loss. The organization adds that such a fracture typically results from falling from a standing position.

An estimated 397,000 osteoporosis-related wrist fractures occur each year in the U.S., making this injury the second most common broken bone related to poor skeletal density, after vertebral fractures, the National Osteoporosis Foundation adds.

In the study, more than three-quarters of the recorded distal fractures occurred after falls from standing height. The risk of this fracture also rose dramatically with patient age, so that those most at risk for the injury were age 80 or older.

However, this likelihood also increased during the winter, indicating that the colder months - with their ice, snowfall and slippery sidewalks - may make osteoporosis-related fractures more common, the team concluded.